Home Health Addiction mental disorder, not spiritual attack — Psychiatrists

Addiction mental disorder, not spiritual attack — Psychiatrists

Addiction mental disorder, not spiritual attack - Psychiatrists

As addiction rates continue to rise, with many turning to faith-based organisations and religious leaders for help, mental health experts have said addiction is a  mental health disorder.

The psychiatrists clarified that  addiction is not caused by spiritual attack but a mental health problem that should be managed by experts.
While spiritual support can be beneficial, the psychiatrists noted that addiction is a complex brain disease that requires treatment, not just prayer or  lifestyle changes.

Speaking at a monthly webinar organised by the Ogun State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, the experts explained that addiction changes the brain’s chemistry, making it very difficult for people to overcome without professional help.

According to them, there are biological and environmental factors that contribute to addiction, and these need to be addressed through evidence-based treatment.

A psychiatrist and founder of Mind Matters, Dr. Peter Nubi said while the behavioural change in addicted people sounds unexplainable, it remains a mental health problem that has to be tackled by professionals.


Describing addiction as something people cannot do without despite trying to stop, the mental health expert said Nigerians need to seek help before it becomes complicated.
Nubi mentioned a few of the most prevalent addictions among Nigerians, including gambling, drugs, the internet, and debt.
He said people will go through the stages of experimental use, purposeful use, and compulsory use before getting to the addiction stage.
While stressing that people need to seek help at the early stage of addiction, the psychiatrist said it is difficult to help and manage people when they get to the last stage.
He added, “Do you blame those who believe addiction is spiritual? How will you explain a managing director of a big conglomerate or a corporation coming to work on Monday morning drunk and when he gets to the lobby of the building, he falls down and starts saying nonsense and this goes on repeatedly.
“People think these things are spiritual because they cannot just understand why somebody with so much ambition continues to behave in a certain way. How do you explain someone who has a beautiful wife and still goes around to sleep with the neighbour’s wife or neighbour’s daughter? You will say it is spiritual.
“You cannot explain it. But we are now explaining it now. We are now saying no matter how deep it sounds so extraordinary, how deep it sounds so peculiar and strange. It is still a medical problem. It’s a mental health problem.
“That person that is behaving or is having an addiction problem. The brain system has been rewired. There is a reworked centre in the brain that has been tickled and it is driving the person crazy.
“That is why even if he wants to stop, he cannot or she cannot stop. He cannot stop gambling until he steals and he is in prison. He cannot stop womanizing until he gets into a problem. He cannot stop addictive drugs until he is either jailed or destroys his body system.”
On how best to tackle addiction issues, the mental health expert said there is a need for enforcement agencies to effectively carry out their duties in protecting the lives of the people.
He stressed that a large portion of advertising content is deceptive, adding that it is one of the main causes of the rise in the nation’s gambling addiction rates.
He added “That is what we are telling people to embrace this advocacy now because it is a mind thing. It is a brain thing. There is a part of the brain that is driving that person’s behaviour. It’s no mother or father.
“It is not the people of the world that have done the Jew or the draw. It is actually a medical problem, a behavioral problem that can be taken care of in a good rehabilitation center.”
Corroborating him, the Medical Director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Paul Agboola lamented that gambling addiction on the internet is becoming a pandemic, stressing that the government needs to take action.
Agboola expressed concern that instead of sending an addict to a hospital for mental health therapy, many Nigerians’ belief systems encouraged them to seek the services of spiritualists.
The Medical Director, however, stressed that early treatment of addicted people is the best way to tackle it as a mental health problem.
“No matter your belief system, you need to change because if you don’t change your belief system, it may even affect the treatment.
“Present the addicted to the experts; the psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses, they are all there to treat people with addiction.
We have so many success stories even in our facilities in Aro. We have dealt with patients with different backgrounds; the high and the mighty in society. Even the students, the youths and they do well. But depending on the time of presentation to the hospital. Although, some of them still go back,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the State NMA chairman, Dr. Kunle Ashimi said the webinar was organised to discuss medical issues with social implications.
According to Ashimi, there is a need to address gambling and other major addictive behaviours since they are becoming serious problems that threaten the nation’s existence
He said, “Betting is becoming a pandemic. You will see different kinds of names they are using to lure people into it.
“It is becoming a real problem. So many families have been ruined and a lot of people have committed suicide because of this.
“Gambling is becoming the devil of the day and addiction is killing the country little by little. It is worse than COVID and there is a need for everybody to start doing something about it.”

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